TOUTED to graduate to the top-10 before season’s end, Nick Kyrgios will next week cross paths with exiled Davis Cup teammate Bernard Tomic as the pair’s divergent rankings trajectory continues.
Winless since January, Tomic is preparing to contest the Monte Carlo Masters, signalling the start of traditionally the worst phase of the Queenslander’s season — the European claycourt season.
Formerly ranked No 17 in the world, the Gold Coaster has suffered a string of losses — some bizarre — to lower-ranked opposition, slumping to No 43.
Since his third-round Australian Open exit, Tomic has lost four first-round matches to lowly-ranked opponents.
World No 140 Darian King ignited a depressing sequence, followed by Steve Darcis (57), Donald Young (63) and Bjorn Frantangelo (112).
Those defeats, along with the back injury which forced him out of the Miami Open, have prompted questions over his desire.
The talented all-courter was pilloried for retiring in 27c conditions in Acapulco in February, describing the heat as “unbearable” only to return to the court a few hours later to contest doubles.
Tomic has won only three of 11 matches on European clay over the past two seasons.
While Tomic is in a downward spiral, Kyrgios continues to excel.
With two wins over world No 2 Novak Djokovic and a cliffhanger three-set (all tiebreaks) loss to Roger Federer, Kyrgios has laid the platform for a serious assault on the British grass court and US hardcourt swings.
Currently ranked 15th, Kyrgios’ composure in the furnace of Davis Cup battle against the US prompted former world No 1 Jim Courier to predict a sharp rise for the Canberran.
“You see when he’s engaged and focused and concentrating and resilient … that’s a player who can and should be top five in the world by the end of the year, if he carries that through and if he’s lucky with good health,” Courier said.
“It’ll be exciting to watch — it always is with him, one way or another.
“When you see players that have so much skill and charisma start to put it together, it’s exciting for everyone involved in tennis.
“Maybe not the guys in the locker room who have to play against him, but for everyone else involved in the sport, it’s a great thing if Nick can find his potential.
“He’s getting close to it.”
Originally published as Kyrgios tipped for top 5, what next for Tomic?